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It Was the War of the Trenches Hardcover – April 20, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Redressing a sad literary situation—the prior unavailability of this full masterpiece in English—Fantagraphics finally brings Tardi's wrenching tales of trench warfare during WWI to American audiences. Tardi, whose French grandfather would often recount his experiences on the front lines, has tackled the subject several times over the decades, and this unremittingly bleak collection of vignettes represents the artistic culmination of his obsession. Portions of this collection were first published in Art Spiegelman's groundbreaking RAW comics anthology in the early 1980s, and Tardi didn't complete the work until nearly a decade later. Yet neither the long gestation period nor the lack of a central narrative prevents it from standing as a singular, cohesive work of art. From the living hell of combat to the ghostlike calm of bombed-out villages, each panel radiates with the fear and hopelessness of hapless conscripts who strive only to retain their limbs and their sanity. Calling the war a gigantic, anonymous scream of agony, Tardi skewers the concept of nationalism and drives home the banality of death. Dark, densely packed backgrounds and heavy wedges of solid black recall the dramatic shading effects of European expressionism, as do the characters' black, fearful eyes. Nearly a century after the fact, Tardi's outrage and compassion make the First World War sting like a fresh wound. (Apr.)
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“Starred Review. While the visuals, which draw upon battlefield photographs, are thoroughly convincing, the soldiers’ harrowing experiences, fictionalized by Tardi, register as even more powerfully authentic. The potency of the soldiers’ tragic stories is enhanced by the elegance of Tardi’s lucid drawing and keen compositions that are accentuated by the use of three horizontal panels per page throughout. This masterful condemnation of the cruelty and stupidity of war, created over the course of a decade, from 1982 to 1993, is a cri de coeur that stands out even amid Tardi’s impressive body of work.”
“Tardi’s tales from World War I capture the morbid drudgery that is trench warfare and finds pockets of profundity that speak to the nature of war and man. His stark, inky forms perfectly convey the blackened skies, scorched landscape, and gritty reality faced by thousands of soldiers.”
- Matt White, Publishers Weekly
“Tardi’s aesthetic is tailor made for this kind of violence, and his inky impressionism carries chilling tactility without peer. There are, simply put, few people who can render bodies with as much physical weight as the deceptively-cartoonish Tardi, and there are few stories worthy of applying that skill as this one.”
- Shea Hennum, Paste
“Ink-soaked and gory, Tardi’s detailed renderings drive home the grotesquery of the war and the ordeal of the young men fighting in it. ...It Was the War of the Trenches creates an aura of loss, regret and terror.”
- Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
“This extraordinary collection of World War I tales offers perhaps the finest work from the lauded Tardi. ... Visceral, powerful, and effective, the flawless It Was The War of the Trenches blazes a new standard for the war comic.”
- Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
“It’s a hugely powerful work, both moving and horrific and filled with anger for the suffering and injustices one group of ‘civilized’ humans can visit upon another... [W]orks like this are needed to remind us of the monstrous acts we can be capable of.”
- Joe Gordon, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
“Many books have been written about World War I, but few can truly worm their way into your head like Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches. … The tales here are devastating and heartbreaking, and often disturbing, but readers will nonetheless have a hard time putting it down.”
- Holly Scudero, Sacramento Book Review
“In terms of its writing and its art, Trenches is a masterful work. … But the book’s true victory is a moral one. For it shows us, clearly and terribly, the thorough destruction of values inherent in modern war.”
- Kristian Williams, The Comics Journal
“Tardi’s depiction of the First World War is so impassioned and visceral that it can be compared to the work of the artists who actually served in the trenches.”
- Joe Sacco, author of Palestine
“Tardi is bringing very specific and very effective weapons to bear in his chillingly successful effort to convey [the] particular horror [of World War I].”
- Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
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Top customer reviews
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EASILY a five out five.
and misery of ground war to the printed page.
What humor exists is the black humor of men facing fear and death.
My maternal grandfather served in WWI and told me stories about the trenches.
This graphic novel made those stories more real, and more affecting.
You can't look away from this strong anti-war statement. It's the fascination of
watching a great disaster unfold.